Napa Girls Weekend

Napa Vacation Photographer | Sonoma | Published at TrueBlu

This was the best job ever.

I had so much fun with these ladies.

How about more people hire me to photograph their day wine tasting?   Please and thank you.

Big thanks to Trueblu who agrees that these girls know how to vacation properly.  You can also follow Trueblue on Facebook, Pinterst, Instagram and Twitter.

Napa Girls Weekend

Napa Vacation Photographer | Sonoma | Russian River | A Sonoma Girls Weekend

When five girls from Texas emailed me to find out if I’d be interested in following them around wine tasting for a day as their Napa Vacation Photographer, of course I said yes.  They were smart, bright, gorgeous, and hilarious women.  Let me tell you, these women know how to do vacation right and they put me to shame: they rented an amazing house with a cabana and a pool, overlooking vineyards in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County; they hired a driver; brought us picnics; hired ME to be their vacation photographer; and filled the air with laughter everywhere we went.  You want an amazing Girls’ Wine Weekend, hire these girls to plan it!

Want your own Napa Valley Girls Weekend?

STAY:

  • The girls rented this amazing 3 bedroom home in Glen Ellen, Sonoma, on Airbnb.  It has 5 beds, 3 bedrooms and an additional private cottage.  It’s on a quiet road, snuggled up next to surrounding wineries that you can walk to in the afternoon if you have extra time.
  • VRBO also offers a slew of wonderful properties for large group rentals in the area.  This secluded wine country retreat in Sonoma sleeps 7 and has a pool and hot tub.

PLAY:

  • The Vichy Springs are a little under a 2 hour drive from Sonoma and offer day use of their mineral baths and pools.  The Calistoga Hot Springs are just under an hour drive from Sonoma and a great way to spend the evening: after 7 p.m. the entrance fee is only $10 so bring a picnic dinner and some wine to enjoy poolside.
  • Local Osmosis Day Spa offers a Japanese influenced spa experience for 2.5 hours that starts in your own private tea garden and is followed up by a Cedar Enzyme Bath and a 75 minute Swedish-Esalen massage for $219!

EAT:

  • The Girl and the Fig offers “country food with a French passion.”  The menu changes daily depending on ingredient availability from local farms.
  • The Harvest Moon Cafe also features daily changing menus based on supply availability from local farms.

DRINK:

  • Stay Safe.  Denise with Da Vine Wine Tours will come to your house or hotel, pick you up, and drive you around every day.  She knows all the vineyards and wine makers.  She’ll set out an unbelievable picnic for you, complete with a table cloth, make appointments for you, and keep you on schedule, all with a smile.  She is awesome and I can’t imagine every doing a Napa, Sonoma or Russian River Vacation without her assistance!
  • Iron Horse Vineyards are rustic and elegant, with grand sweeping views of the Sonoma countryside, exceptional pinots, chardonnays and sparkling wines.  I purchased a bottle of the 2010 Rued Clone Chardonnay while there – it’s delightfully crisp, clean and refreshing.  In short, a porch wine.
  • Lynmar Estate offers great wines and an unbeatable garden.  Their patio is lush, colorful and filled with veggies.  The estate is breathtaking and intimate.  Here you trade vast expanses of rolling hills filled with grapevines for tight narrow pathways overgrown with exceptionally green plants.
  • William Selyem produces award winning knock out pinot noir and I had to buy one, but only one because that’s all I could afford.   The grounds are spectacular, the building awe inspiring and the tasting includes a tour.  Tastings and tours are by appointment only and for wine list members only.  You need at least two weeks head time to make a reservation.  Go here to join the mailing list and make a reservation.
Napa Girls Weekend

Napa Vacation Photographer Sneak Peek | Napa Girls Weekend | Sonoma

When a group of Texas girls emailed me and invited me to be their Napa vacation photographer for a day of wine tasting in the Sonoma, Napa and Russian River area, I did backflips.  They like wine; I like wine.  They’re from Texas; I’m from Texas.  They need a photographer; I am a photographer.  Match made in heaven?  I think so.

Here’s a sneak peek from our unbelievably awesome day visiting wineries.  I can’t wait to share more photos and stories from their Napa Girls’ Weekend: these girls know how to do vacation right.

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Amador Wine Country Wedding Photographer | Rancho Cicada Retreat | Rebeca + Ryan

Rebeca and Ryan went to prom together.

True story.

Her sister introduced them.

For years after high school, they remained confidants, friends and travelers together until one day, they realized they were in love and began to date. They are both kind, adventurous, loving spirits who wanted the feeling and focus of their special day to remain on their friends and loved ones who had joined them.   When they originally contacted me about photographing their wedding, they sent a wonderful email which said they thought I was just the person to capture their event in an organic, natural way.

The wedding was a three day event at Rancho Cicada Retreat in the Amador County wine country, in Plymouth, CA.  Rancho Cicada Retreat is unbelievably stunning and feels a bit like being at summer camp.  With lush lawns, overhanging trees, a babbling brook and all their friends camping onsite, the event was exactly what they intended it to be: exceedingly comfortable, rustic, simple and sweet.

Rebeca and Ryan were the first clients to book me for the 2014 summer and as such, they contracted me to be their Amador Wine Country wedding photographer before I found out that their wedding was on the same day that two of my closest friends in Austin, Tx were set to wed.  I was a bit sad to miss my friends’ wedding, but when I arrived at Rebeca and Ryan’s wedding, I completely forgot that I was missing out because I felt so at home with them.   They encouraged me to stay and party with them after my contracted time was up and that I did: we had an epic dance party until the stroke of midnight.  “Are you really the wedding photographer!?!” one of the guests asked incredulously.  She didn’t believe Rebeca when she told her.  “My wedding photographer left the second her time was up!”

Well, I’m not that kind of photographer. I think that’s why Rebeca, Ryan and I fit so well together.  They are the most wonderful people: inspiring in both their love for each other, their mutual thirst for travel and adventure, and their exceptional taste in music.

Thank you Rebeca and Ryan for sharing your wine country wedding with me.

If you are looking to book your own Amador Wine Country Wedding in Northern, CA and want a private venue with tons of space and places for your friends to camp onsite, you should consider Rancho Cicada Retreat.  I loved it so much that I would like my own excuse to throw a private party there!  It’s secluded, off the beaten path, relaxing and private with enough camping space to host all of your friends for an entire fun-filled wine country weekend.

Venue:  Rancho Cicada Retreat | Catering: Chuck Collison | Bakery: Freeport Bakery | Flowers: Arranged by a friend of the bride, purchased from the Pheng Family Farm at the Sacramento Farmers Market

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Wine Tasting in Amador County

What’s better than a weekend wine getaway at friend’s ranch in the Amador County Wine Country for Easter weekend?

The answer: a weekend wine getaway at a friend’s ranch in Amador County Wine Country for Easter weekend where we have an adult Easter Egg Hung and roast a lamb.

Pleasantly warm temperatures, abundant sunshine, good friends and a lot of wine equal quite possibly the best weekend ever.  Add some charcuterie and cheese plates to the mix and the whole weekend becomes as delectable as burrata on toast.

Want your own Amador County wine weekend?

STAY:

PLAY:

  • The roads in Amador County are perfect for road biking so bring your bikes along and tour the wineries in the best way possible.  There is a limited amount of road routes available at this site, but from what I can tell, most of the roads we were on, including the main highways, would be amazing to ride on.

EAT:

  • Taste has a rotating menu of seasonal ingredients and you can get an appetizer and beverage pairing for $13 at Thirteen Dollar Thursdays at the Wine Bar.
  • Andrae’s Bakery is heaven from the tables of cookbooks outside the door to the breads, pastries and sweets that line the glass counter inside.  Make sure you pick up some of their specialty sea salts while you’re there.  The Mediterranean Blend is great to coat on grilled fish, chicken or veggies and the Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt can’t be beat for steaks and burgers.

DRINK:

  • Holly’s Hill is my most favorite winery of all time. It’s not on the fastest road to Amador, but you should totally take the long way to Plymouth and Sutter Creek vie El Dorado County and stop into Holly’s Hill. Their staff is unbeatable and their grounds are gorgeous.  Nearby Madroña Vineyards is also always a clear winner.  I love their zinfandel.
  • Helwig has beautiful grounds with an amazing outdoor amphitheater.  Large groups can reserve the private tasting room for a true tour of what Helwig has to offer.  Check out their summer concert series schedule – buy a bottle (or three) of wine and take a picnic to enjoy the summer nights.
  • Cooper Vineyards is a favorite.   The owner, the grounds and the atmosphere are relaxed and unpretentious.   Locals love to visit on the nights they host their “Old-Timers’ Music Jam.”
  • Turley is one of my most favorite wineries of all time.  I can still remember the first time I ever took a sip of their wine.   Their wine is hard to come by and a must order when I find it on restaurant wine lists.  The tasting room is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.
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Wine Tasting in Tahoe South

Whether I’m in the need of an after work respite for happy hour or on vacation, a glass of wine always makes me sublimely happy.   Luckily, Tahoe South has plenty of options for those seeking an afternoon wine tasting, any day of the week!

Jimmy’s at The Landing

Recently opened Jimmy’s Restaurant is one of my favorite new Tahoe South dining locations.  Thanks to their staff’s exceptional attention to detail, their inventive California inspired menu from Chef Maria Elia featuring locally sourced fresh ingredients, and an extensive wine list, I am already a frequent diner.  Now that Jimmy’s is offering a complimentary nightly wine tasting every day of the week from 4:30-5:30, you may be able to find me here every night!

Show up to the bar at Jimmy’s and be led by their staff through a daily discovery of wines from their extensive and impressive hand selected cellar of more than 2,000 bottles from over 250 producers.  Then, stay and order one of Maria Elia’s delectable small plates.  My personal favorites are the Wood Grilled Octopus, the Roasted Beet and Apple Salad, and the Kataifi Wrapped Feta.

 

968 Park Hotel

968 Park Hotel offers guests and locals complimentary wine tasting, hosted by local Sierra Nevada foothill wineries every Friday night in the Coffeepub.  Upcoming participating vineyards include Madrona Vineyards, Lava Cap WineryBumgarner Winery, and more!  The wine tastings are accompanied by live music every Friday night from 5:30-7:30 PM.

Picchetti Winery

The Picchetti Winery Tasting Room is conveniently located in Al Tahoe, in the center of Tahoe South on the corner of San Jose and Hwy 50.  The tasting room offers complimentary wine tasting to Picchetti Wine Club Members or $10 sample flights for non-members.  If the weather is pleasant, the tasting room offers a quaint and idyllic backyard to relax in.  Bring a picnic and purchase a bottle of your favorite wine sample to enjoy with your lunch in their gorgeous lawn.   The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Tahoe Ridge Winery and Marketplace

The Tahoe Ridge Winery and Marketplace is located just over the pass in picturesque town of Minden, NV, Tahoe Ridge Winery offers the perfect combination of high desert scenery and wine tasting!  Join them on May 17th for live music, great wine and fun at their Grape Stomp and Deck Opening Party or stop into the winery tasting room Tuesday through Sunday starting at 11:00 AM.  The winery is closed on Mondays and closes at 3:00 PM on Sundays.

Red Poets and Skyhawk Lane Tasting Room

Located in the Heavenly Village features fine wines and gourmet foods in a relaxed atmosphere.  You can order wine by the taste, flight, glass or bottle.  The Tasting Room is conveniently located near the Heavenly Village Cinemas and some of Tahoe’s best shopping, so stop in while perusing the racks or before catching a flick with your friends!

 

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Travel Photography | Napa, CA

I’m catching up on old shelved projects and photos that were shoved to the bottom of my list during the busy season.  This list includes these stunning photos from Napa, CA from this past Fall.  I was there to photograph Adam and Tracey’s wedding on a private estate in the area and spent the extra days visiting with my friend Jessica and her girlfriends and eating pastries from Bouchon.  I’m anxious to get book for another Napa Destination Wedding so I have a reason to return!

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Napa Destination Wedding Photography | Adam Plus Tracey

It is no secret that New Orleans is my favorite city in the world.

When I discovered that Adam and Tracey were from New Orleans, I basically did a second line through my house.

When I arrived on site and heard someone use the word “caddywhompus” I died and went to heaven.   “Do you know that I am the only person in California who has ever used that word until now!” I exclaimed.

Adam and Tracey had a small, intimate destination wedding surrounded by their friends and family members on a private estate in Napa and everything about it was exceedingly comfortable.   Adam’s brother officiated the ceremony.  Tracey and I share a love for Amazon Prime.  The cake was flown in from New Orleans: maple peanut caramel deliciousness from a baker that Adam once professed that he would marry he loved the cake so much.

Tracey and Adam were so at ease with each other.  We went gallivanting into the vines for photo opportunities and they laughed, giggled, and conversed as if I wasn’t even there.  It was the perfect venue for a perfect couple and an awesome family from Louisiana that made me feel right at home.

That is why I love New Orleans so much: because everything about her and her people instantly make me feel home.

Dear Adam and Tracey, thank you so much for choosing me to photograph your day!

I taste good

I hopped over to Los Angeles this week to rendezvous with my best mate after working at El Tour de Tucson.  We had a serious weekend of wine drinking, cooking and relaxing on our agenda.  The first stop on Saturday: LA’s Wine House, which had the biggest selection of regionally organized Italian Wines I’d ever seen.  They also had a ton of  harder to find favorites like Patz & Hall.  What caught my eye, however, was this gem:

“THAT’S MY NAME!” I yelled.  The sales agent unpacking wine on the aisle laughed and said I better buy it.  I was a little expensive – $30 on sale down from $55.  At least I know my worth is significant.

I couldn’t find a ton of information about Lindley Wines online.  Their website is still under construction.  Despite the fact that owners Jake and Frankie Lindley just started making wines (2011 was their first vintage), the wine was surprising smooth and quite delightful (I would expect me to be a bit more bitter and snappy).

End of story: I’d buy me again.  Or maybe they should just give me some.

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Tahoe Event Photography | Women’s Wellness Weekend at Granlibakken

I had such an inspiring and educational weekend accompanied by wine and amazing food at the Granlibakken Resort’s Women’s Wellness Weekend.

The Women’s Wellness Weekend focuses on providing the fusion of Western practices with Eastern philosophy to provide women with information, inspiration, activities,  and great female company.  This is an awesome opportunity for any woman, but especially for those in the medical field.  For an additional $75, healthcare professionals can earn nine hours of CE credit at this amazing weekend getaway in the stunning Tahoe basin.

Granlibakken is a gorgeous resort.  Conveniently located in picturesque Tahoe City, CA, it offers tons of trails for hiking and mountain biking in the summer, a tree-top Adventure Park, a spa, and, in the winter, nordic skiing.  There is a plethora of rooms, units, condos and even large houses available for everyone from the single occupant to an entire family to come stay and enjoy the Tahoe area.

Although I was there to photograph the event, I learned so much from the presenters and I found more than a few of them to be fascinating.  Tahoe City based nutritionist, dietician, and triathlete Jill Whistler specializes in sports nutrition and really reinforced my own personal thoughts regarding nutrition and the best eating habits to fuel your body.  Nueropsychologist Suzanne Aberasturi, Ph.D provided us with a hilarious guide to how your brain develops and grows with age.  Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM is a family practitioner and the ice President of Medical Affairs and the Medical Director of Las Vegas Recovery Center.  His presentation on the disease of addiction was enthralling, surprising and peppered with humor.  I had the pleasure of dining with who is now going to be my new dermatologist: Dr. Jennifer Janiga.  She was a refreshing, gorgeous person who gave a fantastic presentation on healthy skin.

My favorite presentation of the weekend came from Joyce Mikal-Flynn, Ed. D, RN, FNP, MSN, a marathon runner and triathlete, who survived a sudden death in 1990 requiring 22 minutes of CPR.  She released a book, Turning Tragedy into Triumph MetaHabilitation: A Contemporary Model of Recovery which presents her system of rehabilitation.  Mrs. Mikal-Flynn spoke about what happens to people when they suffer life changing events and why some are able to turn their tragedies into triumph when others cannot.   I found her presentation to be particularly inspiring.  As an athlete myself, I wonder how I would react if faced with a similar circumstance.

In addition to the lectures and presentations, the weekend also offered various physical activities such as yoga, zumba and ki gong, as well as, social hours, lots of wine, a health expo, and shopping from local artisans.

The 2014 Women’s Wellness Weekend will be held on November 8 and 9, 2014.  If you register before the end of 2013, you can lock in this year’s super reasonable rate which includes all the Women’s Wellness Weekend Activities, one night lodging, hot buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches, and use of the pool/sauna/hot tub.